Genealogy: World War I 1917-1919, Researching Draft Registration cards

WWI SoldiersBy Barry J. Ewell
The United States instituted a draft that included 24 million men between the ages of 18 and 45.  There were three registration periods which had requested slightly different information:

  • Version 1: June 5, 1917 for all men 21-31
  • Version 2: June 5, 1918 all men who turned 21 since last draft
  • Version 3: September 12, 1918 for all men 18-45

The type information by version on the registration cards includes:

  • Full name (V1, V2, V3)
  • Home address (V1, V2, V3)
  • Date of birth (V1, V2, V3)
  • Place of birth (V1, V2)
  • Age in years (V1, V2, V3)
  • Occupation (V1, V2, V3)
  • Name and address of employer (V1, V2, V3)
  • Name of nearest relative  (V3)
  • Citizenship status (V1, V2, V3)
  • Physical description (V1, V2, V3)
  • City, county and state of local draft board (V1, V2, V3)
  • No. of Dependents (V1)
  • Marital status (V1)
  • Date of registration (V1, V2, V3)
  • Signature of  applicant (V1, V2, V3)
  • Previous military service (V1)
  • Grounds of exception (V1)
  • Name and address of nearest relative (V2, V3)
  • Father’s birthplace (V2)

Carefully record the information you gain from the cards to give you clues of other records to search. I have used the information on the cards to:

  • Learn the birth date and place of the individual. Use the information to birth records and more information about immediate family, parents, and siblings.
  • Learn the names of spouse, dependents and residence.  Use the information to look for additional records about the family such as census, church and land records.
  • Learn biographical details
  • Occupation which as lead to occupation records
  • Land ownership used to help find land records

You can research these cards on FamilySearch, Ancestry.com and other databases.

Make it a practice to research all members of the family during war periods.  The following are the World War I draft registrations cards and a draft classification,  card and  for the Stewart family which also represents all three versions of the draft cards:

Three versions of the World War I draft registration cards
The following draft registration cards are for Stewart family which also represents all three versions of the draft cards:

Version 1: June 5, 1917 for all men 21-31 WWI Draft V1WWI Draft V1Version 2: June 5, 1918 all men who turned 21 since last draft

WW I Draft Card V3WW I Draft Card V3Version 3: September 12, 1918 for all men 18-45

WWI Draft CardWWI Draft cardDraft classification card
The following document is an example of the classification card that the individual would receive after filling out the draft registration card.

WWI_Draft_Card_1WWI Classification cardWWI Classification cardWWI Classification cardWWI Classification cardWWI Classification cardWWI Classification card